Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ante-natal scans are fallible

Briefing: there is a regular stream of such stories; this is representative. There is more commentary from Fr Tim Finnigan.

From CFNews: Becky Weatherall and her partner Kriss Kramer where told by their doctors that their son would be born deaf and blind and would probably survive only for a couple of hours. Little Brandon Kramer was diagnosed in utero with rhomboencephalosynapsis - a condition in which the brain fuses together rather than being in two halves - as well as hydrocephalus - water on the brain. Tests conducted twice a month indicated the condition was worsening and Becky was advised to abort her pregnancy up to just weeks before the birth. The couple ignored the doctors' recommendation and Brandon was born healthy on October 1 last year.

A report in the Daily Mail said the Fetal Medicine Unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff was ordered to review the case to determine whether Brandon had the condition and recovered from it, or whether data from the numerous ultrasound scans had been misread by hospital staff. The couple does not intend to sue the hospital for compensation but does want the situation to be made know as a warning to other parents. 'Perhaps doctors shouldn't put so much confidence in scans,' Becky said in the Daily Mail report. 'One of the older doctors we spoke to said a scan is like a fuzzy image of a snowstorm - it cannot be relied upon - and he turned out to be right.' 'I feel incredibly guilty thinking that I could have killed him - and then I find myself wondering how many other babies are killed who would have turned out to be completely healthy.'

'We had prepared to spend Christmas without him - we thought we'd be planning a funeral. Instead, it was the best Christmas present ever and now we're having a christening.' Brandon's father Kriss said, 'We are not there to blame anyone but we want to thank them for the help and advice they gave us. They went over the MRI [scanner] results with us. They haven't given us any explanation.' 'It was a mistake, but all that is put to the side now and we are trying to forget about it because Brandon is normal.'


Talks for parents on Sex Education, Birmingham


James Caffery will speak on Monday.

Antonia Tully speaks next week on ' The Truth & Meaning of Human Sexuality '.

the final talk will be by The Oratory Fathers, ' How Can We Make this work? Grace, Prayer & the Sacraments '.

If anyone wants information on keeping sex education out of the Catholic Primary & instead giving assistance to parents as the primary educators by the provision of a short course of high profile pro-life speakers, please contact me Jackie Parkes

Original post: Please support these meetings if you can, on Sex Education & Moral Development to be held at the Oratory Primary School Birmingham.

The next talks are on 20th Feb, 2-3pm, 25th Feb 2-3pm, 3rd March 2-3pm.


Lobbying: Wot Works

Briefing: Pastor in Valle's information is surely correct: letters to MPs count for far more than petition signatures. But the other way of looking at it is this: how many times a year would readers of this blog (or anyone else) be willing to write to their MPs? It takes 60 seconds to sign an e-petition; maybe four to ten minutes to write a cogent email; 10 to 15 minutes to write a snail-mail letter. We are careful not to test the patience of our readers by constantly asking for letters to MPs; is there something quick you can do? Sure: sign a petition.

Another point is this: there are hundreds of petitions on the go all the time. The ones of Catholic interest are often very small compared to the others. This is a bad thing and will surely be noticed. If the Catholics can't even be bothered to spend a few moments signing a petition... !

Hat-tip to Valle Adurni: I was speaking last night to a good friend who has retired early from being a fairly senior civil servant. I asked him frankly whether these e-petitions (such as the one a couple of posts ago) really have any influence at all. He thought not. 'Ministers are going to do what they want to do' he said. It would take a very serious petition, a couple of million signatures strong, to make them take any notice.

What does work, he said, is individual letters to MPs. They say that one letter on a subject represents ten who think the same way but haven't written. An MP always has an eye to his re-election, and if there is a substantial body in his constituency holding one point of view, he has to take notice, particularly in the current climate of low turn-out for elections. A couple of hundred votes one way or the other could very well make the difference.

My friend also commented that letters directly to ministers are simply passed on to a subordinate to answer, and are thus effectively ignored. However, a letter to your MP requesting that he take a matter up with the minister concerned is the best of all, since the minister must personally reply to the MP, and this reply will normally be forwarded to you.
Finally, as to those postcards which SPUC distribute to be filled in: these are simply ignored as an obvious pressure campaign requiring little commitment on the part of the sender, my friend commented. If you want genuinely to make a difference, write your own letter to your MP.


'Catholic' Sex Ed in Archdiocese of Birmingham

Action: parents in the Archdiocese of Birmingham should find out about this and take action. Birmingham is especially significant since the Archbishop, Vincent Nichols, is the Chairman of the Catholic Education Service. The programme the Archdiocese uses is called 'All That I Am', and a very rough summary can be seen on the web here. Even from this, it is apparent that the programme contravenes several key principles of Catholic education in the area of sexuality.

What the Church teaches (see end of post) is that parents are the primary educators of the child in all matters, but in the matter of sexuality the parent-child relationship is so vital to personal formation that it is wrong to take this function away from parents unless they are for some reason incapable of performing it. If this is the case, then the child needs to find an individual (teacher or other) who the child can trust. This individual must know the child well enough, and be guided by the child's questions, to know what information it is appropriate to supply at what time. The whole process must be one-to-one, built on understanding, trust, and confidentiality.

'All That I Am' envisages a sex-ed teacher crashing into the lives of an entire class with a heap of information the Government has decided children should know several years before the children want to know it: this is gravely wrong.

John Flemming, an Australian commentator who seems broadly sympathetic to the notion of class-room sex education nevertheless points out several other flaws in this programme.

- Natural Family Planning is presented as a form of contraception.
- Biblical teaching on homosexuality is rubbished and a quotation on homosexuality from the Catechism is bowlderised to omit the connection between the Church's teaching and the Bible, and the sentence 'They [homosexual relationships] do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.'
Flemming comments: The real concern of the programme appears to be the protection of homosexuals from unjust discrimination and persecution. That is very laudable and fully in accord with the teaching of the Church in the Catechism in article 2358, cited on page 72 of the book. But this virtue cannot vitiate the confused, unconvincing and even distorted account of Church teaching on homosexuality which occurs in this programme.
- Contraception, NFP and the Church's teaching are presented 'to be able to make informed choices', as if they were simply pieces of information. Rather, the teaching of the Church gives us the moral principle by which we can make correct choices.
- Teachers do not have to be Catholic: they do not have to have any values at all, but to be 'affirmative, encouraging, to be acknowledging and to be empathetic', and 'offer time to listen and time to challenge'. Catholic children cannot be formed as Catholics by teachers who reject the Church's teaching.

See Flemming's whole report here; hat-tip to Catholic Mom of 10.

Pontifical Council for the Family: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family December 8, 1995

See here for the full text.

23. Other educators can assist in this task, but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity. On this point the Magisterium of the Church has expressed itself clearly, in relation to the whole educative process of children: "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to find an adequate substitute. It is therefore the duty of parents to create a family atmosphere inspired by love and devotion to God and their fellow-men which will promote an integrated, personal and social education of their children. The family is therefore the principal school of the social virtues which are necessary to every society".

65. 1. Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation. Since parents know, understand and love each of their children in their uniqueness, they are in the best position to decide what the appropriate time is for providing a variety of information, according to their children's physical and spiritual growth. No one can take this capacity for discernment away from conscientious parents.

66. Each child's process of maturation as a person is different. Therefore, the most intimate aspects, whether biological or emotional, should be communicated in a personalized dialogue. In their dialogue with each child, with love and trust, parents communicate something about their own self-giving which makes them capable of giving witness to aspects of the emotional dimension of sexuality that could not be transmitted in other ways. 78. It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II's words as "the years of innocence" from about five years of age until puberty — the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl's body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.


Involuntary euthanasia in Northhampton

Briefing. The hospital's investigation found no evidence of 'malpractice' for the simple reason that killing off its patients is no longer regarded as malpractice.

From SPUC: A meeting organised by SPUC's Muslim division in Northampton, UK, heard how a woman patient at Northampton General Hospital had her feeding tube removed against her family's wishes, and died five days later. Mr Pervez Akhter, marking the first anniversary of his mother's death, said that the family were hoping to take her home when her care regime was changed. He accused the hospital of assuming a "licence to kill". The hospital said that an investigation had found no evidence of malpractice.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 1

Briefing. It is ten years since the publication of F. Carolyn Graglia's book 'Domestic Tranquility: a Brief Against Feminism'. (; The arguments of this book are as important today as ever, and need to be reiterated. To this end CAUK will publish a series of short extracts from this book.  

Graglia's talk 'Can the Traditional Family Survive Feminism?' can be read here and downloaded as an MP3 here. Other articles by her are available here.

For more on the very worrying influence of militant Feminism within the Catholic Church in the UK, see the articles by Patricia Phillips on the Catholic Feminism website.

Among the key ideas of the book is that the revolution in family life which took place in the 1960s and 1970s was led in large part by a vicious attack, by feminists, on the ideal of the full-time mother, the housewife. In order to support and restore the traditional family, this ideal needs to be defended and promoted once more.

From the book (pp38-39).
[A] dramatic shft in mothers' exertions away from the daily routine of her home is the most critical change wrought by the feminist revolution and one its apologists seek to deny. It is not the case--as they would have us believe--that women have continued their domestic endeavors within the home, particularly tending to their children, even as they have "expanded their horizons" outside the home. Whatever the arrangments for surrogate care, the relationship which exists between the mother who is at home all day and her child no longer exists when that mother enters the workplace.
The attempt to rationalize this change--even to make it appear for the better--spawned that most ironic phrase "quality time" to describe those moments a working mother spends with her child. It is as if the phrasemakers thought a mother fresh from her day in the marketplace would infuse these moments with a vim, vigor, and verve that would readily surpass the anemic exertions to be expected from the type of woman who chooses to stay at home. In child care there is no quality without quantity. Most mothers who competently provide the full-time daily care of their children know that spokemen for the "helping professions" who employ this jargon of "quality time" (now blessedly in waning use) are either blinded by their committment to feminist ideology or have no grasp of the depth of interactions that occur with one's children during the course of an ordinary day at home.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Quest: Dossier

Update: as of summer 2008 Quest has a new Chair, or 'acting Chair', Peter Rodgers (picture), who organised the regular 'gay' Masses in the Dominican Holy Cross Priory, Leicester.

Quest, founded in 1973 and led by the journalist (and former Dominican friar) Mark Dowd, tells us that it ‘is a group for lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics. Its purpose is to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ so as to sustain and increase Christian belief among homosexual men and women.’ A laudable aim, to be sure; unfortunately, the ‘gospel’ and the ‘Christian belief’ which they promote are not compatible with Catholic teaching.

This dossier aims to indicate more precisely what Quest does stand for, its relationship with the mainstream Church, and its potential for causing damage.

What does Quest stand for?

In parallel with many dissident organisations, some care is taken on the Quest website to avoid explicit rejection of Church teaching. The general public is only allowed to see edited versions of their newsletter, and are excluded from the discussion forum and other areas; and lest its Committee be identified from other sources as dissenters, they are identified only by their Christian names. But although these tactics make it harder to provide telling sound-bites, the secrecy itself tells us a lot about the organisation.

The first and obvious question about a Catholic organisation for the support of homosexuals is ‘Does it help its members and others to lead chaste lives?’ By contrast to homosexual support groups which do have this aim (such as the Encourage Trust), Quest gives absolutely no indication that this is its purpose. On the contrary, the first of their list of aims is ‘associating lay men and women who are seeking ways of reconciling the full practice of their Catholic faith with the full expression of their homosexual natures in loving Christian relationships

We may safely assume that this in turn is understood in accordance with the views of their members, expressed in a survey it conducted in 2000 (the results of which are no longer available on their website, but are preserved here):

* Are you convinced by any arguments that you have heard to the effect that sex outside marriage is always wrong? 89 percent 'no'

* Do you agree that a homosexual orientation is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil and thus must be seen as an objective disorder. 92 percent 'no'

* Should Quest work for change in official Church teaching on sexuality? 90 percent 'yes'

* Should it be part of the purpose of Quest to encourage its members to live chaste lives with no sexual activity? 81 percent 'no'

* Should Quest support legislation to recognise same-sex partnerships. 80 percent 'yes'

It is no surprise, then, to find Quest campaigning (in the spirit of the third question above) against exercises of the Church's Magisterium on sexual morality, and attempting to undermine the Church's actions informed by that teaching

Thus it rejected the Vatican's 2005 statement on admitting homosexuals to seminaries, here, calling it 'a backward step for the Church . . . It confirms that the Church pastors have failed to listen to the voices of modern medicine, science and psychology'.

Again, when Archbishop Vincent Nichols made a stand against the Sexual Orientation Regulations, this too came under official Quest condemnation here.

Finally, Quest made a long and detailed submission to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on the question of Civil Partnerships, attacking the position articulated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which condemned them. In the same vein, Mark Dowd, in his capacity as Chair of Quest, condemned the Scottish Bishops' opposition to Civil Unions (Catholic Herald, 3rd Feb 2006).

In short, Quest, like the RCCLGCM, is an organisation dedicated to 'normalising', within the Church, an immoral lifestyle. They may regard this lifestyle as necessary to the self-fulfilment of people of homosexual inclination, but they are mistaken: this lifestyle leads to unhappiness. This is the teaching of the Church, and it is confirmed by experience.

Quest and the Bishops

Quest has few credentials as a 'Catholic' organisation. After a few years in the national Catholic Directory, it has been excluded since 1998 by Cardinal Hume (their own account of the saga can be read here). Recently, a Quest event in the Liverpool University Catholic Chaplaincy was cancelled at the insistence of Bishop Kelly.

That is the good news. Mark Dowd has boasted that 'some bishops have remained privately supportive of Quest' (Autumn 2005 Quest Bulletin), and this sadly seems to be true. Quest is still listed in some Diocesan Catholic Directories as a 'Catholic' group; Masses are regularly said for local Quest groups in private houses, and increasingly these are happening in public churches. For example:

Leicester: the local Quest have had Masses in Dominican-run Holy Cross parish.

Nottingham: Quest reports in its Newsletter that Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP has actively encouraged them.

Bristol: a retreat for 'Gay Christian Men' is taking place in April this year in Emmaus House, Clifton, a centre run by La Retraite nuns; it is recommended by Quest as 'an opportunity for gay Christian men to share their stories in a spirit of mutual respect.'

Birmingham: the local Quest group has had Mass said for them in the church of St Catherine of Siena, Bristol Street.

Aylesford, Kent: Mass is celebrated for them (on the '5th Saturday of the month') in the Carmelite Priory.

Southwark: their upcoming conference is taking place in Digby Stuart College, part of the University of Roehampton, which is a Catholic foundation with a chapel; the same Archdiocese is allowing one of its priests to be Chaplain to the conference, and to celebrate Mass for them. Equally scandalously, Fr Michael Seed, a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, is advertised as a speaker at the conference.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Quest Masses take place in St Partick's, Edinburgh and St Simon’s, Glasgow (see Catholic Truth Scotland Newsletters here and here).

The damage done by Quest

Quest causes damage in three ways.

1. It is a 'Catholic' voice opposed to Church teaching, and Church policy, on all matters related to sexual morality, waiting to be quoted by liberals and anti-Catholics in the media. Like 'Catholics for a Free Choice', it can hope to embarrass Bishops and other Catholics by contradicting anything they say or do in support of Church teaching, and creating the impression that the teaching of the Church is uncertain, and may be about to change. The Chair, Mark Dowd, is a prominent journalist who makes regular appearances in the 'conservative' Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Herald.

2. It causes scandal to faithful Catholics who witness or hear about their events, and especially their Masses, which appear to give official endorsement to their rejection of Church teaching.

3. It gives its own homosexual members, attendees at its Masses and so on precisely the wrong pastoral advice. All humans afflicted by Original Sin are assailed by temptation; Quest holds out the false but alluring hope that in the case at least of sexual temptations, people who think of themselves as Catholics can just give in and 'express themselves'. This leads to sin and unhappiness: it is not charitable to anyone.

For bishops and priests to allow Quest and like-minded groups to take on a role in making pastoral provision for vulnerable people is for the shepherd to place the wolf in charge of the sheep.

Opposing Quest

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is absolutely clear as to what the Church's own policy must be, in its document, 'The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person', 1986: (See here for the full text.)

17: 'All support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous...'

This is unanswerable, and has the full support of Pope Benedict XVI, who was President of the CDF when this document was produced. This gives faithful Catholics all the ammunition they need to report any Quest activity which has implicit or explicit support from bishops or priests to the diocese, the Papal Nuncio and the Vatican.


Dissidents invited to give talks at Wesminster


From The Flock (Lent 08) (Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice): The follow up to the "At Your Word, Lord" programme is currently running in Westminster Archdiocese. Like the others, it aims to set up small 'faith-sharing' groups within parishes where people exchange their own ideas about the faith without any correction of error allowed. As the Pope has warned us, there is now 'widespread religious ignorance' among Catholics so this is bound to cause confusion and distress. To compound these errors, the team running the programme, under the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, seem to have deliberately chosen well-known dissenters as the only resources. For instance they have invited Father Rafael Esteban, author of "How the Church must change" to come all the way from East Anglia to explain how the Church must change Her teaching on, among other things, contraception. He will also show how we must dismantle the Hierarchial
Church, instituted by Christ, in favour of a democratic church of his own devising. We are told that 'Father is an excellent speaker' who will explore "ideas of leadership and the development of lay ministry," but whether he will be following the 'Lord's word' I am not at all sure.

“Sadhana: A Way to God,” is the book chosen as a resource. This book, by Father Anthony de Mello, promotes practices from eastern religions such as mantras, centering prayer, and other Buddhist techniques. It was considered to be so dangerous to Catholics that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, when under Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, took the unusual step of issuing a stern notification pronouncing it “void” and “ambiguous”. This must prompt the question: Why teach Buddhism when it is Catholicism we need to know? Or is the Lord in “At Your Word, Lord,” the Lord Buddha? And if this was not enough….. Westminster have also invited the psychotherapist Margaret Philpot to indoctrinate Catholics with the discredited Liberation ‘Theology’. Laity will be trained in theory-practice-methodology techniques so they are equipped with the skills they need to take over from the clergy in leading their fellow Catholics - obviously down the wrong road. We must do all we can to expose the dangers of this Programme to the innocent, vulnerable Catholics who will otherwise be led astray by it.

We should also point out to the authorities that there are many faithful Catholic priests much closer than East Anglia who would willingly give talks which are in line with Church teaching to people following a Programme. There are also excellent CATHOLIC spiritual books, some of them by canonised saints, which would not lead anyone astray but would make really worthwhile resources. Indeed, there is now an excellent, truly Catholic Programme for adults called Evangelium which informs and inspires people without dissent of any kind. Evangelium is available from the CTS. It presents the faith extremely well and in an interesting way using modern technology. If this was used in all our dioceses it would go a long way towards correcting the errors instilled by forty years of false catechesis, by the rogue courses ‘Catholic’ ALPHA and CaFE, and by these new Programmes. It could even put whole parishes back on the right path and lead them to Christ.


Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice: latest Newsletter

The Lent issue of The Flock is out now and available here.

In this issue of "The Flock" :

The Best - and the Worst - of times: comment

At Who's Word? - dissident priests invited to give talks in Westminster

Will Your Grandchildren be Catholic? - booklet selling fast

Lancaster leads the Way - Bishop O'Donaghue's booklet on Catholic schools

Soho Masses update - new regime in place after 17th Feb for the 'Gay' Masses

Eternal Rome rising like the Phoenix - comment

Dear Friends - message from the Chairman

Good Initiatives we applaud - resources and events

An Important Conference - 'Crisis in the Church: Facing the Truth', Glasgow

Support for Universal Living Rosary Association


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bishope Devine call to oppose hybrids bill


From SPUC: The Catholic bishop of Motherwell, Scotland, has written to all his
parishes calling for active opposition to the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. Rt Rev Joseph Devine emphasised that the procedures proposed by the bill are medically unnecessary as well as attacks on human life. He writes: "The Government hope that the majority of the public remain indifferent to these issues... If few people speak out it will be presumed that most people are happy enough with what is being proposed."


Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth: update


From CFNews: After three years of investigations and disputes, Cardinal Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has asked the entire board of directors of the Hospital of SS John & Elizabeth to resign in order to facilitate the implementation of a Catholic ethics code that would preclude abortion referrals, IVF and contraception. A spokesman for the Cardinal, who is patron of the hospital, is quoted by the Guardian saying, 'In light of recent difficulties and challenges the cardinal asked the board to resign their office.'

An investigation into the practices of the hospital in St John's Wood was launched in 2006, after complaints came from the Vatican that the hospital was dispensing chemical contraceptives and referring for abortions. Later it was also revealed that the hospital had allowed phalloplasties, a woman-to-man 'sex-change operation'. After nearly two years of disputes with the hospital's board, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the hospital's arbiter on ethics, imposed a new ethics code and appointed an auxiliary bishop of Westminster archdiocese to oversee implementation. At this, a number of the Catholic hospital's board members resigned, accusing the cardinal of promoting Catholic 'values', which they held to be in conflict with patient care.

The hospital is also under investigation by the government's Charity Commission for failing to disclose vital information surrounding an £11 million loan to open an NHS primary care centre on its premises. Money to refurbish the property, a former convent, was approved by the government's Charity Commission, but the agency was not informed that a clause in the lease allowed doctors to opt out of the hospital's own ethics code. The cardinal's office said the removal of the previous board was 'to enable a new chairman to begin his office with the freedom to go about ensuring the future well-being of this Catholic hospital'.

Charles Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank has been appointed in that position. Lord Guthrie is a former Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Army, and is Vice President and Knight of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the ancient Catholic military order that focuses on medical charity work around the world. The Order has its London headquarters, including an ornate and historic chapel, at the hospital. As a member of the House of Lords, Baron Guthrie has spoken against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill in 2005, saying that it is the failure of the medical community to improve pain relief and appropriate care of the dying that has generated a demand for euthanasia.

But the Restituta Group, an organisation that has been working to restore the Catholic ethos to the hospital, told that the move by the Cardinal to remove the board is 'baffling'. Nicolas J. Bellord, secretary to the group, said the problems in the board and the hospital's Catholicity were being resolved and that the situation was improving.

'I'm totally baffled,' Mr. Bellord said, 'The board seemed to be getting on top of the problem. They seemed to have achieved a great deal. They were getting back towards Catholicity, they started on that way and now they've being asked to resign.' Bellord pointed out that technically, the Cardinal has no legal power to remove the board. The hospital said it would not be commenting further on the resignations. Deputy chief executive, Claire Hornick, said 'Lord Guthrie, supported by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, has stated that under his chairmanship there is no desire that the hospital be sold and that the committed plan remains to continue the objects of the charity, which, guided by its Catholic ethos, is to serve the local community.'


Friday, February 22, 2008

Dossier on Catholics for a Changing Church

Catholics for a Changing Church, formerly called the 'Catholic Renewal Movement', was led by the former Oratorian priest John Challenor until the Chair was taken by Frank Pycroft. The website tells us that it 'began as a protest movement against Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical in 1968, in which artificial means of contraception were banned'. Back on planet earth, the Church's teaching against artificial contraception was one of her most well-known features as the issue grew in prominence in the early 20th C, especially after the Anglican Communion changed its hitherto orthodox teaching to allow it in 1930, a move which stimulated the classic reaffirmation of the Church's timeless teaching by Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii.

But that's the CCC for you. It can't make even the simplest claim of fact without slipping in some tendentious phrasing which takes a whole paragraph to unpick and refute. Reading its website, newsletter and publications combines crushing boredom, as the usual series of worn out liberal nostrums are set out with little or no argument, with mounting frustration, as one falsehood after another is implied as if they were the most obvious things in the world. Rather than engage with this hydra-headed monster of ignorance and stupidity, we will limit this dossier to the questions of what CCC stands for, and the ways it represents a threat to the Church.

The CCC is a grouping of people who for some reason wish to call themselves Catholics while apparently rejecting almost every aspect of Church teaching. Their particular angle is that their 'support' for the Second Vatican Council, which took place when most of its declining membership were already adults (the latest Newsletter hopefully asks 'When Vatican II was in session, did your parish keep you informed of the discussions at the Council?' Clearly, no one expects the newsletter to be read by anyone under 50.) Many liberals in the 1960s thought that Vatican II could change not just the outward forms and disciplines of the Church, but her very teaching and mission, and were bitterly disappointed when this failed to happen. The disastrous effects of treating Vatican II as a completely fresh start for the Church have been acutely described by Pope Benedict XVI in the books he wrote before his election. The Holy Father has made it a keynote of his pontificate to replace the 'hermeneutic of rupture' with a 'hermeneutic of continuity': to make people realise that even the decrees of Vatican II itself can only be understood in light of the Church's tradition. Naturally, CCC does not find it easy to quote unambiguous support for its positions from Vatican II; where there is unclarity, we must refer to the other sources of Church teaching, such as papal encyclicals, from before the Council and after.

Chesterton said that when faith is lost, reason is soon lost as well. Once liberal Catholicism gets a grip on a mind its critical faculties seem to be rapidly eroded. So although CCC seems to have an answer to everything, the answers don't actually cohere together.

To respond to the obvious point 'Why reject Humanae Vitae, when this has been given to us by a recognised organ of the Magisterium?' they apparently answer

1. Only General Councils have real teaching authority within the Church (article by Challenor).

Does this mean that CCC accepts the infallible pronouncements of the First Vatican Council on Papal Infallibility? Obviously not. At this point they change tack:

2. Better than a General Council are theological experts: Cardinal Newman voiced some initial doubts about Papal Infallibility (before it was declared a doctrine); Paul VI's experts thought that contraception was ok. (Renew, Dec 07 p1).

But teams of experts are not taken very seriously when they disagree with CCC: the team which put together the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, are excorciated (Renew, Dec 07 p14). So then we get the position

3. Even better than experts would be some quasi-democratic process by which the clergy and laity would be involved in formulating Church teaching (Manifesto, Aim number 2)

It seems very doubtful whether a truly democratic process would give the CCC what they want: first of all, faithful Catholics realise that matters of fact, as opposed to matters of preference, cannot be determined by votes or opinion polls, and the process would not get very far; and anyway CCC's positions occupy the lunatic fringe of Catholic debate. But since this 'democratisation' is never going to happen, it is less likely to spoil CCC's fantasies, and they can get on with telling what they actually want.

The Church should reject its own teaching on the inheritance of the stain of original sin;

Women should be ordained (link to pro women's ordination group);

The Western Church should allow married clergy, and
Priests who abandoned their calling to get married should be allowed to exercise their ministry (link to Advent group)

Contraception should be allowed;

Homosexuals should be allowed to 'express their sexuality';
Unofficial lay-led quasi-eucharistic services should be recognised;
Catholics should be able to divorce and remarry;
The historicity of the Gospels and the inerrancy of Scripture in general should be rejected;

Christian unity should be fostered by the Church's abandonment of her confidence in her teaching and identity.

This list could be indefinitely extended. The site includes disclaimers that the views expressed are not necessarily those of CCC itself, but as an organisation they are clearly engaged in promulgating these views without any orthodox balance.

Does the CCC damage the Church?

The latest newsletter concedes that, as the CCC anticipates its 40th anniversary, it seems to be marginalised and ignored by the hierarchy, with its own ranks 'thinning out'
(Renew, Dec 07 p20). Like many Catholic lay groups, it seems to be in terminal decline; the photographs of the Executive Committee make them look like the inhabitants of a retirement home. Nevertheless, it continues to damage the Church in three ways.

1. It contributes to a liberal 'alternative Magisterium'.

The huge number of dissident groups the website links to, the personal links between the CCC and other dissenting groups (for example, at the 1980 Pastoral Council it was represented by Martin Pendergast, of RCCLGCM fame), and its publication of a wide range of dissenting 'Catholic' writers and theologians, contributes to the liberal myth that there is a groundswell of opinion which would like to see the Church move in a radically different direction. The leader of this amorphous group is Hans Kung, CCC's patron, who was forbidden to teach as a Catholic theologian in 1979. This myth is central to the liberal project of undermining the confidence of bishops and lay groups in Church teaching, by making them fear widespread attacks on any serious statement of that teaching or attempts to put it into practice. This fear is the cause of the paralysis which is often evident in the Church in the UK.

In actual fact, the dissidents who contribute to CCC's website, newsletter and series of pamphlets (liberation theologians, radical feminists, militant homosexuals, hyper-liberal liturgists etal.) have nothing in common with each other except their rejection of Church teaching, and often disagree with each other violently; furthermore their positions have almost no support from Catholics in the pews.

2. They draw more mainstream Catholics into their orbit

Writers and organisations who generally accept Church teaching, but have a bee in their bonnets about a particular issue, find a willing audience in the CCC. This lends the CCC their prestige, and draws them in to a more radical attack on the Church. For example:

Eamonn Duffy was in danger of becoming a conservative Catholic pin-up for his magnificent book on the English Reformation, 'The Stripping of the Altars'. He dispelled this image by writing a CCC pamphlet attacking the historical basis of the claims of the Papacy: 'The Papacy: Myth and Reality', focusing on the early Church. On that topic, of course, Duffy's scholarship carries little weight: he is a thousand years outside of his specialism.

Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB, editor in chief of the New Jerusalem Bible and until recently member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, is the author of an article on the CCC website about the 'historical Jesus'. As a stimulant to discussion in a university seminar this might be useful; directed to a non-specialist audience it is likely to cause scandal. (Ironically, the CCC attack Fr Wansbrough's major work, the NJB: is it too orthodox for them?)

3. They infiltrate official organs of the Church

Movement between the CCC and the mainstream Church goes both ways. For example, long-standing CCC activist (and ex-nun) Mary Jo Radcliffe now gives talks, study days and retreats. One, advertised in Briefings, the official journal of the Bishops’ Conference (Feb 2003) took place in St Wilfrid's Convent, Chelsea, entitled: "How do I recognise the areas of my life that can be changed, so helping me to grow?" Others took place in Campion House, the Jesuit-run hotbed of dissent and disobedience in Osterley, Middlesex, before this closed down; in Feb 2008 she is still spreading her bizarre creed at the 'Benedictine Centre for Spirituality' an offshoot of the Benedictine Monastery of Christ the King, Cockfosters.

Even more serious is the matter of the priests who become involved in CCC. Like all dissident groups it is full of ex-priests and religious; when priests still involved in Catholic ministry are involved, this is an opportunity for CCC to spread its message to parishes, religious communities and official Church publications. Mgr Paul Hypher and Fr Owen Hardwicke have written booklets for the CCC. The English Province of the Dominicans seems particularly involved, advertising CCC's pamphlets on its website, four of which were written by a Dominican, Giles Hibbert.

Fr Derek Reeve (a member of the Executive Committee) had an article published on the CCC website, now no longer available, titled "Belatedly Appreciated" in which he seems to attack the very notion of a sacramental priesthood. "I have enjoyed being a priest and I continue to enjoy it but I look forward to a time when the priesthood as we have known it will be no more and when we will be able to select from among our numbers those whom we want to serve us, women and men, and ask the bishop to lay hands on them to be our presiders at the eucharist, our preachers, our carers or whatever."

Fr Rafael Esteban, another pamphlet author, gave a speech in 2000 mocking orthodox groups for their concern over dissent and confusion in the Church and stated: "I'm concerned thatthere is not enough dissent and confusion." (see here). Now we hear that he has been invited to give talks in the Archdiocese of Westminster's programme of adult formation, 'At Your Word, Lord'. His "How the Church must change" suggests changes to the Church's teaching on contraception, and argues for the dismantling of the Hierarchial Church, instituted by Christ, in favour of a democratic church of his own devising.

4. It gives scandal

To Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the fact that the CCC calls itself 'Catholic' and yet espouses extreme anti-Catholic positions is a source of confusion and scandal. The CCC clearly have no concern about this, but in this matter Our Lord disagrees:

But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18.6)

Action against CCC

Faithful Catholics must be on their guard against the CCC and similar groups, which are constantly seeking to impose their agenda on the Church. There is a continual effort to get dissident people and events recognised as mainstream, to be allowed, for example, to use Church premises, advertise or get published in Church journals, and address Catholic audiences. Because of the scandal involved, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled decisively against such cooperation: 'All support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely.'" See here for the full text.

The CCC is not listed as a Catholic group in the Catholic Directory. Nevertheless, in the early years of the century, the CCC managed to use Vaughan House, belonging to the Archdiocese of Westminster, for their Annual General Meeting. After complaints, described in a Patricia Phillips article on the CCC, this was stopped; they now use an Anglican church. The CCC is recognised by the hierarchy as being beyond the pale; no doubt this explains the bitterness of their writing about the bishops. Nevertheless, CCC tentacles are still to be found in the Church, as noted above, and constant vigilance is needed to oppose it.


Bishop O'Donaghue's 'Fit for Mission?' now available from CTS

Action: please spread the word about this excellent booklet by the Bishop of Lancaster, calling for Catholic schools to be genuinely Catholic. It is now published by the Catholic Truth Society, and available online.


NACF pilgrimage to Walsingham

There are many pilgrimages to the UK's historic shrines: please support them. This one, to the English National Shrine at Walsingham, is organised by the National Association of Catholic Families.

From CFNews: Bank holiday weekend 24th -25th May, NACF National pilgrimage and AGM in a Field adjacent to the chapel of reconciliation, at the Catholic shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. All members are invited, with guests and tents. The field opens Friday evening and must be clear Monday 10am. Accommodation can be booked in the village.


Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor: call to action on hybrids bill

Action: please lobby your MP.

From CFNews: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has sent out a pastoral message to Catholics in England & Wales encouraging them to write to their MPs about the 'profound questions of human life and dignity' posed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The Bill has completed its passage through the House of Lords and will be debated in the House of Commons in the coming weeks. It extends the scope of scientific research on human embryos and allows the creation of animal and human hybrid embryos for research. It removes a provision to have regards for the child's need for a father when IVF methods are used. Attempts to liberalise the abortion law further are also expected. The Cardinal said: 'Many people of all faiths and none are deeply concerned by the moral questions raised by this Bill. Now is the time for our voices to be heard.' 'Taking action on this pressing issue now helps to remind us that our Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all.'


Anglican bishop: UK Govt imposing a new morality

Briefing. Note the bishop's sadness at the passing of 'benign secularism': having given up on the idea of having a Christian society, we can't complain if an alternative world view is adopted. The UK has got to be either Christian or, simply, something else.

From CFNews: Gordon Brown's government is like the seven-headed, 'demonic beast' of Revelation, bent on imposing its 'moral agenda' (which is opposed to 'longstanding Christian morality'), on British society, according to an Anglican bishop. The Labour government's policies, especially their support of the homosexual political agenda and the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill, are a move away from a benign secularism, said the Rt. Rev. Graham Dow, bishop of Carlisle.

Speaking at a meeting at the Church of England's General Synod on the release of the book, 'God, Gays and the Church', Bishop Dow said, 'I happen to believe that our government is moving into the realm of imposing its morality and it is therefore becoming a Revelation 13 government rather than a Romans 13 government.'

The bishop was citing St. Paul's letter to the Romans in which Christians are admonished to be good citizens and obey the lawful commands of the Romans. 'Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.'

But, Revelation 13, regarded by Christians as a prediction of the apocalypse and the end of the world, says, 'And I saw a beast coming up out the sea, having seven heads and ten horns: and upon his horns, ten diadems: and upon his heads, names of blasphemy.' Biblical commentators say that the seven heads of the beast are a metaphor for 'the whole company of infidels, enemies and persecutors of the people of God, from the beginning to the end of the world'.

The chapter goes on, 'And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.'

Bishop Dow called on those present to continue defending Christian doctrine. 'The challenge is to be brave and bolder than we have been, keeping the issue in the public domain, not falling into the trap of being aggressive. We will be called homophobic constantly.'

In a later statement, Bishop Dow said, 'By way of clarification I would want to say that the government has certainly been 'God's instrument for good' (Romans 13), for example in the promotion of the equality and in social inclusion, in its support for poorer nations and its emphasis on the environment.

'However in the last year or two it has been imposing its own moral agenda in a way that is contrary to longstanding Christian morality and the significant voice of Christian churches.'

In addition to the imposition of the homosexual doctrines on Britain, the bishop mentioned the Labour government's Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill and the refusal to allow Catholic adoption agencies to function according to their moral conscience.

He added, 'The underlying point is that I and many others are critical of the government's promotion of legislation about the structure of society and about lifestyles which has as its moral basis only that choice and complete licence are good.

'Further, when the government speaks and acts as if the only possible moral basis is that which it promotes, it is acting as if it is god. Hence the terms of my criticism of it.'

In his foreword to the book, 'God, Gays and the Church', Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, warned that the Church's integrity had been 'gravely undermined' by its acceptance of homosexuality and criticised the 'public advocating and vaunting of behaviour contrary to the teaching of the Church of England.'

The book, 'God, Gays and the Church' may be purchased online from the Latimer Trust at this website:
[LifeSiteNews] 1425.16


Thursday, February 21, 2008

CAFOD: dossier

CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, clearly find it difficult being a 'Catholic' charity. They have employed the appalling Dermot O'Leary to front a campaingn, and a pagan leader to give spiritual reflections on a pilgrimage to Holy Island. But their major and best known failing is their position on condoms.

In a nutshell, CAFOD endorses condoms as the 'lesser of two evils' to combat AIDS. This is inevitably linked to an approach to sexual relations which aims simply at 'safer' prostitution, a 'reduction' of casual sexual encounters, 'fidelity' to one partner at a time, etc.. This is not what the Church can contribute to human happiness.

It seems extraordinary that an organisation set up by the Catholic bishops with the specific task of providing an ethical alternative to the likes of Oxfam should adopt a policy repeatedly criticised by the Vatican, and certain to cause grave scandal to the faithful. The promotion of condoms to combat AIDS may seem justifiable on a superficial viewing (such a policy does not necessarily imply a wrongful contraceptive intention on anyone's part), but the problems with the policy are plain to anyone who thinks about it for a few moments.

CAFOD has on their website what looks like a denial, dating from Jan 2005, that they advocate this policy:

It should be made clear that CAFOD does not fund agencies for whom condoms are central to their programmes. The vast majority of CAFOD’s partners are Church partners. All partners, including secular ones, are made aware of our stance, which is that CAFOD neither funds nor advocates the supply, distribution or promotion of condoms. In this CAFOD seeks to exercise a role consistent with its Catholic character.

This, however, is disingenuous. On the very same web page, the next item down (4th from top) is a link to a pdf document with a quite different tone (note how the truths of the Catholic faith are referred to as a 'religious ideology'):

Epidemiological data confirm that condoms, when used consistently and correctly, reduce but do not completely remove the risk of HIV infection 12 and this scientific fact cannot be excluded from or misrepresented in any information on risk reduction strategies, regardless of a group’s cultural or religious ideology 13. The available evidence suggests that condom promotion has been particularly effective for identifiable groups at highest risk of HIV infection (e.g. sex workers) and who may have few if any other options for reducing risk. This evidence also indicates that, thus far, condom promotion for the general population has been less effective as a public health strategy. 14 15 Thus an important component of this third strand of a nuanced ABC [Abstinence Be faithful Condoms] must be that C also stands for Choice. An imperative that becomes “Choose what you can change today; choose what you want to change for tomorrow” is informed by sound epidemiology and also compatible with the gradualist theological understanding referred to earlier.

This document describes itself as a revised version of a paper given in July 2004. If CAFOD had a Damascene conversion in late 2004 why is this not mentioned in the Jan 2005 statement? Why is the old policy document still on their website? And why is it is that their 'nuanced' support for condom-promotion in theory and in practice, which has been defended by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, The Tablet and other supporters of CAFOD? The 2005 statement seems to be simply a sop to critics following the row caused by the (now defunct) Catholic Action Group's criticism of CAFOD (and here). The 2004 paper is also available on the website of Caritas International, international umbrella group for Catholic aid agencies.

Here are Fr Finnigan's comments:

In 2004, a paper was presented by Ann Smith entitled 'An understanding of HIV prevention from the perspective of a faith-based development agency'. This gives a comprehensive outline of CAFOD's policy in this area. The paper refers to an article by Enda McDonagh Theology in a time of AIDS. This argues for the acceptance of the use of condoms as a "lesser evil". CAFOD's approach was strongly defended by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Bishop Rawsthorne in a letter sent to all the priests of England and Wales. The first editorial of the 29 April 2006 issue of The Tablet (click on "sample issue") promotes the same approach.

Here are the moral problems with the policy (lifted from the CAUK dossier on Progressio):

a) The condom-pushers in developing countries simply hand them out as useful for both AIDS prevention and contraception.

b) The promotion of condom-use promotes the social acceptability of contraception.

c) The promotion of condom-use promotes the very sexual immorality which spreads AIDS.

d) Most importantly, it would be insane as well as immoral for a possibly infected person to use a condom simply to prevent infection, because they are not 100% effective (estimates vary between 75-95% for their prevention transfer of the virus between partners: used regularly, this is an effectiveness of zero).
As Monsignor Michel Schooyans of the Pontifical Academy for Life and also Social Sciences said in an interview in June 2006. " can ask oneself if it is truly an act of love for an HIV-positive to have relations with a healthy person. Like a sufferer from tuberculosis, from pulmonary plague orcholera, an HIV-positive knows that he can infect his partner. So if one really loves someone, one is going to avoid his running the risk of death. And it is well known that condoms are not reliable, that the percentage of ruptures is sometimes fairly high.
In morality the principle of the lesser evil is very simple. It consists of saying that when one is confronted by two inevitable evils, one must choose the lesser of these two evils. It is almost a question of good sense. As an example, let us revert to the case of condoms. To have relations with an HIV-positive and trying to protect oneself with condoms, is not something inevitable. There is always the freedom to have or not have this type of relations." (Interview by Arianne Rollier Rome June 2006)

For more information, see this page on Fr Finnigan's parish website.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

YouTube backs down on anti-life censorship

Briefing. Here's the video.

From CFNews: After media coverage and numerous protests for removing a pro-life video report critical of a Planned Parenthood advertisement, the video-sharing site has apologized and restored the video to its site.

In its apology, YouTube blamed the video's removal on a 'technical malfunction.'

The video in question criticized Planned Parenthood's 'Mile High' advertisement that used an airplane setting to encourage recreational sex and contraceptive use. The American Life League (ALL) video displayed clips of the risqué advertisement, which is also posted on YouTube.

On Monday morning, the ALL received an e-mail from YouTube saying their video had been removed. 'After being flagged by members of the YouTube community and reviewed by YouTube staff, the video below has been removed due to its inappropriate nature,' the e-mail said.

Michael Hichborn, the director of media relations for ALL, told Catholic News Agency that more than 64 news sources and weblogs covered the banning, including Yahoo News, EWTN, News Busters, and the Inside Catholic blog.

'Once word got out that YouTube had allowed the Planned Parenthood ads our report was based on to remain on their site, while at the same time censoring our report, a flurry of e-mails, blog posts, and complaints from the pro-life community pressured YouTube into reversing their decision,' said Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League.Three days after the video was banned, the American Life League received a second e-mail that read:

'This email is to inform you that a video was recently removed from your account due to a technical malfunction. The issue has since been remedied and we appologize[sic] for any inconvenience or distress this may have caused. The following video(s) have been reinstated and your account has not been penalized.'

According to the YouTube user guide, flagged videos are not automatically taken down by the web site. 'If we remove your video after reviewing it, you can assume that we removed it purposefully, and you should take our warning notification seriously,' it reads.

Sedlak welcomed YouTube's restoration of the video to the site, saying, 'We are pleased that YouTube has reversed their decision to remove our video. Our ALL News Report was neither objectionable nor inappropriate. While it is unfortunate that YouTube chose this tactic in the first place, it is encouraging to note that they corrected their poor decision in a timely fashion.' [CNA]


CAFOD 'role model' dissents from Church teaching

Briefing. Readers should seriously consider whether CAFOD is worthy of their support. There is excellent commentary on Dermot O'Leary on Fr Finnigan's blog here. And here's this delightful son of the Church promoting breast-cancer awareness with Davina McCall.

From CFNews:CAFOD has recruited Dermot O'Leary, 'celebrity' presenter of the Big Brother television show, to front their drive to raise money for its development projects around the world. In a newspaper interview O'Leary has made it clear that his allegiance to the teaching of the Catholic Church was 'not unquestioning'. He lives in North London with his girl-friend and cheerfully admits to using contraceptives. CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, is the official overseas development and relief agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.


Tories wake up to anti-family tax bias

Briefing: a pity the Conservatives didn't do anything about this when they were in power: except to run down the Married Person's Tax Allowance. It is worth noting also that the 'choice' Thersa May wants to give to mothers is not enough: as well as the tax system, it is a culture which gives little respect to family life which forces mothers back to work. The traditional family needs to be promoted, not just permitted.

From CFNews: In a wide-ranging analysis of the position of women in British society, the Tories said the Government had set up the tax and benefits system to limit parents' choices about when and if they go back to work. The 'Women in the World Today' report suggests that each full-time parent saves the state £29,000 a year in services, but points out that the tax system makes no allowance for families where a parent chooses to stay at home to care for a child.

It also says that by failing to crack down on discrimination in the workplace, ministers have allowed a situation where mothers who take time out of their careers to care for children experience reduced future earnings.

The report says: 'Labour's approach has been to try to get parents back to full-time work, and in doing so, those parents who want to care for their children often feel discriminated against and penalised for making the choice that suits them.'

Just one in 10 women of working age is staying at home full-time, according to official figures.

About 13.4 million women of all ages - the highest number recorded - have jobs, more than 55 per cent of them full-time.

Theresa May, the shadow minister for women, who launched the report, said a Conservative government would give mothers more choice. 'Women shouldn't be thought of as a single monolithic bloc but as 30 million individuals who should be given a real choice over their own lives,' she said.

The study also found that many working mothers find themselves unable to spend as much time at home with young children as they might like to.

Some 66 per cent of mothers take less maternity leave than the 26 weeks they are entitled to, the report said. Mrs May said the report's finding that women are still paid an average of 17 per cent less than men in similar jobs reflected badly on Labour and some big employers.

In particular, she criticised Sir Alan Sugar, the Amstrad boss and the star of BBC television's The Apprentice.

Sir Alan told The Daily Telegraph last week that employment rules barring employers from asking job applicants if they plan to get married and have children resulted in some companies rejecting female applicants out of hand.

'It's about time people like Alan Sugar stopped taking an outdated view of women in the workplace, stopped talking about why employing women is such a problem for business and started talking about why employing women is good for business,' Mrs May said.

Part of the Tories' proposed solution to the workplace gender gap is compulsory pay audits for companies which lose sex discrimination cases.

The Tories launched their study as an independent report from London University's Institute of Education found that working class parents and single mothers effectively face 'coercion' to get back into work.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Petition for a free vote on the hybrids bill

Action: please sign the petition.

From an email: There is a petition to request the Prime Minister to allow a free vote on this Bill. Scandalously, the Government are imposing a 3-line whip, thus trying to pressure MPs into voting with the party rather than with their own conscience. They did the same in the House of Lords, where the Bill was passed at 3rd reading b y a sizeable but maybe not all willing majority. It has always been the tradition in the House to allow a free vote on matters of morals and ethics. This Government are determined that their proposal will go through, against all reason, against all moral views and against
every decent principle.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Christian legal advice centres

Update: the Thomas More Legal Centre now has a website.

Briefing 12/12/07:
we recently reported on a new Anglican/Catholic collaboration setting up the 'Thomas More Legal Centre' here, although this does not appear to have a website and unfortunately shares its name with a much better known US organisation. Now the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has spawned its own organisation, The Christian Legal Centre. The arrival of these organisations, specifically to fight Christianophobic laws, shows the extent to which Christians have their backs to the wall. It is a pity that the Catholic Bishops have not provided funds for an organisation specifically for Catholic concerns.

From Christian Concern for Our Nation:
We would like to announce the formation of a new organisation called the Christian Legal Centre. Following Andrea Williams’ involvement in a number of high profile Christian Interest Litigation cases, a decision has been made to form an organisation to enable legal and litigation support for these cases to be more effectively focused. The Christian Legal Centre is separate from the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, which will continue with its remit of public policy briefing as a Christian charity representing a large number of Christian lawyers.

The Christian Legal Centre will act as an information portal and assist
individuals to instruct Christian lawyers in cases where they feel they are
unable to live in accordance with their faith and are facing discrimination and
unlawful hindrance as a result. The Centre will also take on cases to defend
Christian principles, truth, sanctity of life and freedom.

Andrea Williams is the Director of the new organisation and will also continue
in her role as Director of Public Policy for The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship.
The Christian Legal Centre has its own dedicated website, which will be kept up
to date with all the information about current and past cases.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Threat posed by redefining marriage


From the Iona Institute, Ireland: On Wednesday January 30 The Iona Institute hosted a talk on the implications of assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF, and the phenomenon of same-sex parenting, for society’s overall view of parenthood. In particular the talk dealt with how these phenomena are making it more difficult for society to assert that children have a right to a mother and father, or even need a mother and father.

The speaker was Elizabeth Marquardt who is the author of a recent paper called ‘The Revolution in Parenthood: the emerging clash between adult rights and children’s rights’.

Elizabeth’s talk can be downloaded here.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hybrids bills passes in the Lords, goes back to the Commons

Action: please support the rallies mentioned a few posts ago, and lobby MPs.

From SPUC: The House of Lords approved the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill without accepting any substantial restraining amendments. An attempt by Baroness Williams of Crosby to ensure that embryos could only be used for research when no alternative exists was rejected. The Lords failed to divide on the bill, giving it an unopposed third reading. The bill will now go to the House of Commons. [SPUC director's blog, 4 February, and Official Report, 4 February] SPUC will campaign to expose the evils contained in the bill and urge people to lobby their MPs to vote against it. [SPUC, 4 February] In response to concerns expressed during the debate, the government has introduced amendments that would require clinics to tell parents of the importance of telling children if they were conceived using donor gametes. The requirement to consider the child's need for a father is expected to be removed.


Shroud of Turin: carbon dating inconclusive


From CFNews: The techniques used in 1988 by three separate teams of scientists to date the Shroud of Turin to the middle ages, may have been inconclusive, a radiocarbon dating expert at Oxford University has told the BBC. According to the Church official in charge of the Shroud, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, director of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator, whose specialty is the use of radiocarbon dating in archaeological research, told the BBC that radiocarbon dating techniques have developed since 1988, and that the Shroud's long history of travel, exposure to the elements and handling could have skewed the results.

The BBC interview, that has yet to be broadcast, was discussed by Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the diocesan commission for the Shroud of Turin, at a conference in Novara Italy. Msgr. Ghiberti speculated that the Shroud's long history, including travels from Palestine to Europe, damage by fire in the 16th century, and much handling over the centuries could have influenced the outcome of the tests.

In 1988, three groups of scientists made an attempt to use radio-carbon dating techniques to determine the age of the Shroud, concluding that the linen cloth could only date to the middle ages and not to the first century near east. According to the 1988 studies, the Shroud, venerated for centuries by Catholics as the burial cloth of Christ, could only have been a hoax or the product of some unknown natural process. The highly publicized study was published in 1988 in the scientific journal Nature. That conclusion, however, has not halted the debate over the origin of the Shroud, although Church officials have declined to allow the fragile cloth to be so closely examined since then. In 2005 a second analysis indicated that the cloth sample used by the 1988 teams had been taken from a part of the Shroud that was not part of the original cloth. The interview with Dr. Ramsey will be broadcast by the BBC on Easter Saturday.


Infanticide on the NHS


From CFNews: A new report shows that 66 babies were born alive on one year alone after abortions done with public money under the NHS's health care system. The babies were routinely left to die after their premature birth and some survived for as long as 10 hours afterwards. According to the report, the babies were in the latter stages of pregnancy and were aborted not with a standard surgical abortion procedure. Instead, the NHS says women were given drugs to soften their cervix and had labour induced to birth the child so prematurely that there is no way to provide enough care for the child to live. After birth, the babies received no medical care or attention, the report indicated.

According to the Evening Standard, the babies in these abortions mostly involved unborn children who suffered from severe physical or mental disabilities, some of which may have been life-threatening. However, the newspaper said the report showed some of the babies had very minor issues such as a club foot or cleft palate that could easily be repaired with surgery after birth.


ASA rules against 'Gay aim: abolish the family'


From CFNews:

Philip Whealy, a representative of the Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV) has been interviewed this week both on BBC News 24 and on the BBC Asian Network and 119 Sky Digital, talking about the CCTV's poster campaign which carried the words, 'Gay Aim: Abolish the Family'. Many CCTV members exercised their legal right to peaceful protests in January and March 2007 outside Parliament when both Houses were voting on the Sexual Orientation Regulations. At the second rally the CCTV displayed a mobile bill board on a vehicle driving around London stating, 'Gay Aim: Abolish the Family', and showing a picture of a man, woman and two children. One person raised an ASA complaint against the CCTV. The CCTV fought for its right to use this poster and the rights of all people to have freedom of expression in a democratic society. The ASA found the CCTV to be in breach of its Code. Nevertheless, the CCTV continue to campaign for traditional family values. The following quote, they remind us, is taken directly from the London Gay Liberation Front Manifesto

'The long-term goal of the London Gay Liberation Front, which inevitably brings us into fundamental conflict with the institutionalised sexism of this society, is to rid society of the gender-role system which is at the root of our oppression. This can only be achieved by the abolition of the family as the unit in which children are brought up. We intend to work for the replacement of the family unit, with its rigid gender-role pattern, by new organic units such as the commune, where the development of children becomes the shared responsibility of a larger group of people who live together.'

Don't be misled by government reassurances that the SORs will not cover the curriculum, says the CCTV. One of the primary GLF campaign aims was 'that sex education in schools stop being exclusively heterosexual'. The Manifesto also criticises schools for ignoring homosexuality in education and criticised the sex education of the 70s as being 'little more than an extension of Christian morality'. Unless critical exemptions for schools and people of faith are included in the SORs, there is no doubt that we will soon see this legislation being used as a tool to force homosexuality onto our children in the classroom'. [Christian Congress for Traditional Values]


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hybrids bill: Rally

Action! Please support these rallies (the first is tomorrow) to stop this grotesque bill.

From Lord Alton (hat-tip to Carmelite Spirituality)

There will be a rally to draw attention to the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, at 7.00pm on Ash Wednesday, February 6th. Please do encourage people to come. I know that our opponents intend to be out in force. Speakers will include the Rt.Hon Ann Widdecombe MP.

Other rallies;
* London: Central Hall Westminster, SW1:- Wednesday 6th February, 7pm
* Liverpool: The Liner Hotel, Lord Nelson Street:- Tuesday12th February, 7.30pm
* Coventry: Coventry Cathedral:- Wednesday 13th February,7.30pm
* Widnes: The Foundry, Lugsdale Road:- Monday 18th February,7.30pm
* Cardiff: The City Temple, Cowbridge Road East:- Tuesday 4th March, 7.30pm

For further information tel. 01925 220999 or 0203 1760032 or email: or It would be good to see big audiences and hopefully many other smaller meetings will be organised in the wake of these. It's vital that the public learn what is at stake in this Bill. Post cards are now available to send to MPs. Please e-mail Ian Lucas, who will be pleased to send them to you for local distribution. A power point presentation explaining the Bill is also attached and this may be used at local meetings or to forward to others.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Family & Youth Concern vs. Polly Toynbee on Sex Ed

Briefing. See also 'Catholic mom of 10' here and here.

From CFNews: In a recent article in support of compulsory sex education in all UK schools. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee launched an attack on Family and Youth Concern (FYC). [Polly Toynbee. Sex education works, so why is it not compulsory. Guardian. 4 December 2007].. She had evidently been irked by the press interest in FYC's report 'Waking Up to the Morning-After Pill', which had been the front-page story at the previous day's Daily Mail and had also received prominent coverage in other national and regional newspapers. In view of the factual inaccuracies contained in her article, FYC asked the Guardian to publish a correction. In reply the newspaper offered them the opportunity to write a comment piece in response to Polly Tornbee. A shortened and edited version of the following article by FYC's director. Norman Wells was printed in the Guardian on 7 December.'[Norman Wells, Don't believe the contraception industry: sex education doesn't work. Guardian. 7 December 2007]

According to Polly Toynbee, the small reduction we have seen in teenage conception rates 'may be partly due to easier emergency contraception from local pharmacies'. However, the fact remains that there is no evidence in the world to support her hypothesis. International studies have consistently shown that increased access to the 'morning-after pill' has reduced neither abortion nor unintended pregnancy rates.

Our own study (Norman Wells and Helena Hayward, Waking Up to the Morning-After Pill) which Polly dismisses as 'a spurious story' and 'evidence-proven nonsense', reveals that 84 per cent of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have policies permitting the pharmacy supply of the emergency pill to girls under the age of 16. and over half are prepared under some circumstances to insist on such provision as a condition of granting a pharmacy licence. Yet not a single PCT was able to cite any evidence that the confidential provision of the morning-after pill in pharmacies has contributed to a reduction in under-l6 conception rates. If Polly has any evidence that has hitherto eluded all 152 PCTs in England. I am sure they will be only too pleased to hear from her.


This may sound counter-intuitive. After all, if the 'morning-after pill' works at all, it stands to reason that it does prevent at least some unwanted pregnancies from developing and thus prevents at least some abortions. However. there is also evidence that the ready availability of contraception results in some young people becoming sexually active who would not otherwise have done so.

For almost a year following Victoria Gillick's Court Appeal victory in 1984, under-16s were unable to obtain contraception without parental consent. The sex education establishment and contraceptive industry protested that teenage pregnancy rates would rocket. But they didn't. While under-I6 attendances at family planning clinics went down by a third, teenage conception rates remained the same, suggesting that the restriction on contraceptives provision to under-16s led to a reduction in underage sex activity.

'Children's reproductive health rights'

But not everybody regards less teenage sexual activity as a positive outcome. Some are wedded to the notion of 'children's reproductive health rights' - a euphemism for the 'right' of children to engage in unlawful sexual intercourse, with confidential access to contraception and abortion. Polly Toynbee herself is dismissive of any attempt to discourage teenage sex and even goes so far as to say that, 'It is good news... that more pregnant teenagers are opting for abortions'. Bearing in mind the trauma experienced by many women for months and years after an abortion, this is hardly a cause for celebration.

Polly refers to Ofsted's criticisms of much sex education in its 'Time for Change'? report. This same report asserted that. 'School nurses can... provide a valuable service, particularly in terms of providing emergency hormonal contraception and advising on other forts of contraception.' The basis for the claim? Not that it reduces teenage pregnancy and abortion rates, but 'pupils said they appreciated it'. It does not bode well for children when the body responsible for improving standards in schools cannot tell the difference between what children say they value and what is truly valuable.

Sex education - an ideological battlefield

"Abstinence teaching doesn't work'. Polly asserts, while sex education 'taught well' can serve as the panacea for any number of social ills. But this all begs the question as to what it means for sex education to 'work' and to be 'taught well'.

The organisations demanding compulsory sex education in all schools share a strong hostility towards teaching children the positive benefits of saving sex for marriage. Yet this is a message they desperately need to hear. Separating sex from marriage has not only led to high rates of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and abortions, but it is also a major contributory factor in divorce and family breakdown and all the human misery and adverse social consequences that flow from it. Young people desperately need to hear that there is a better way.

Sex education has become an ideological battlefield on which war is being waged for the hearts and minds of children. For this reason it is vital to resist attempts to impose a state-approved approach. Schools must remain accountable to parents who bear the primary responsibility for the care and nurture of their children, and parents must retain the freedom to withdraw their children from sex education lessons that they believe will do more harm
than good. [FYC]


Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen